Five essential New Orleans and Katrina reads

Editors’ note: Five essential reads take unexpected angles on the 2005 storm and its disastrous aftermath.

The Great Deluge

Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Douglas Brinkley

William Morrow: 716 pp., $29.95

“Brinkley captures the frenzy Katrina caused as it bore down on New Orleans” and provides “pungent details that most news organizations were too genteel to dwell on,” wrote our reviewer, Dante Ramos.

New Orleans, Mon Amour

Twenty Years of Writings

From the City

Andrei Codrescu

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: 276 pp., $14 paper

Though this essay collection ranges far and wide over New Orleans’ cultural history, reviewer Jervey Tervalon noted, the book culminates with “work written after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. . . . These pieces are naked with grief.”


Life and Death and New Orleans Rap

Nik Cohn

Alfred A. Knopf: 212 pp., $22.95

The music writer’s memoir of his affection for the Big Easy may be a pre-Katrina book, yet it sheds an unexpected light. “The story winds through the clubs, the parties, the backroom studios,” reviewer Lynell George wrote, “offering a guided tour of the impoverished wards . . . hit hardest after Hurricane Katrina.”

Storm World

Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming

Chris Mooney

Harcourt: 392 pp., $26

Besides being the year of Katrina, ’05 was the year that “many scientists started taking seriously the proposition that global warming could make hurricanes far worse than they are today,” reviewer Thomas Hayden wrote, “and that the 2005 season was just a taste of things to come.”

Sugarcane Academy

Michael Tisserand

Harcourt/Harvest: 184 pp., $13 paper

A one-room schoolhouse started by the author and other Katrina evacuees is a moving example, reviewer Susan Salter Reynolds wrote, of “the hopefulness and ingenuity of the parents, students and teachers who created the school.” Readers learn how this vibrant experiment also struggled against “established policies and protocols that become roadblocks to spiritual and physical regeneration.”